Bozarth, New Seek Georgia House Seats as Independents
(APN) ATLANTA — As election season shapes up for 2014, at least two Atlantans have announced their intent to seek access to the ballot as independent candidates for State House.
Bill Bozarth, a long-time activist and former Executive Director of Common Cause Georgia, is running for State House District 54, the seat being vacated by State Rep. Ed Lindsey (R-Atlanta), who is running for US House.
Also running for House District 54 are one Democratic Primary candidate, Bob Gibeling; and four Republican Primary candidates: Beth Beskin, who previously challenged State Sen. Horacena Tate (D-Atlanta) in 2010; Loretta Lapore; John McCloskey; and Angelic Moore.
In addition, Randy New, an attorney with Kitchens New Cleghorn LLC, is running for State House District 56, the seat currently held by State Rep. “Able” Mable Thomas (D-Atlanta).
Currently, the Georgia House of Representatives has only one independent member, State Rep. Rusty Kidd (I-Milledgeville), in addition to 119 Republicans, and sixty Democrats.
Each year non-incumbent independent candidates attempt–and almost always fail–to gain ballot access. For non-statewide seats, Georgia’s burdensome ballot access laws require gathering the signatures of five percent of the registered voters in that jurisdiction.
For Bozarth, the amount is 1,776 signatures, which he noted in an interview with Atlanta Progressive News, is an important year in U.S. history.
In 2010, APN produced a resource on ballot access laws in Georgia, which is available online here:
The 180 day period for independent and third party candidates to collect the signatures begins this year on January 09.
“The assumption at this time is getting the signatures is not the hard part. I’ve decided to limit campaign contributions. I’m going to have to run a grassroots campaign. I believe the petition signature gathering process complements that really well,” Bozarth told APN.
“I’m going to try to get twice as many as required,” Bozarth said.
“The two parties in my opinion make it hard for anyone else to play the game. It’s not an accident. It’s not the way it should be,” Bozarth said.
“I think that running as an independent is going to free us up to do better than we otherwise would. I think the public is just about sick enough with partisan bickering, straightjacket approaches to issues based on what party you are,” New told APN.
“We’ve got to get on the ballot… I’m comfortable we will get there. We know we have to do it. We’re going to focus on identifying those people at the beginning of the campaign and getting them signed up in the period of time that the law permits,” New said.
“I think she [Rep. Thomas] does good works… that are not big enough to solve some of the problems [in the district]… she identifies projects that are too small,” New said, adding that Thomas is “not a bad person.”
“There are portions of the district that need greater economic opportunity. To do economic development and enhancement – that’s a big project,” he said.
In 2009, New wrote an angry email to then-State Rep. Kashy Ashe (D-Atlanta), who currently held the seat, over her and the Democratic Party of Georgia’s support for now-Mayor Kasim Reed.
Like Rep. Thomas, New supported Norwood in the 2009 Mayoral race. New–who is openly homosexual–criticized Ashe and the Democratic Party for getting behind Reed despite his lack of support at the time for same-sex marriage.
“The evidence is NOT that the Democratic Party is pro-gay. Rather, the hard cold EVIDENCE is that the Georgia Democratic Party and its leaders like you are anti-gay. Indeed, this state has done but one thing for gay people ever (even when it was under Democratic control) and that one thing was the passage of a hate crimes bill in a way that was constitutionally infirm,” New wrote.
“And that infirmity was deliberate, arose out of the Democratic Party, and I know that because I was present when Georgia Equality took the crappy bill we were allowed to have. In contrast to that slimy victory and in addition to Douglas’ [Douglas Brooks’s] list of your failures and the failures of the Democratic Party in Georgia, let me add the manifest failure of the party to bury in Calvin’ [sic] subcommittee the marriage amendment when he had the ultimate safe seat — that failure of leadership being the bullet that ricocheted predictably into the feet of many Democratic legislators,” New wrote.
“The fact is that the Democratic Party has never valued and has only taken advantage of the members of our community. You take our money, you come into our homes, you take our votes and then you give us the back of your hand,” New wrote.
“Kathy, to say ‘I am done’ would be the epitome of redundancy. However, I will continue a bit longer to persuade ‘my’ people, who are clearly not ‘your’ people, that we need to rethink,” New wrote.
Rep. Thomas was not aware that New had announced, when reached by APN by phone today, although the Georgia Voice magazine reported his announcement yesterday, January 05, 2014.
“The seat belongs to the people. I believe that I’ve done a great job and I will just have work hard and win the race,” Thomas said.
It will be an uphill battle for New in the majority Black district, where voters selected Rep. Thomas over another White, homosexual attorney, Ken Britt, in 2012, 64.72 to 34.28 percent, in the Democratic Primary in 2012.
Meanwhile, Bozarth has a long history as a citizen-advocate in Atlanta for over twenty years, including his service as Executive Director of Common Cause Georgia from 2002 to 2010.
Bozarth currently serves on the Atlanta Citizens Review Board, where he has served since 2012; and on the board of Neighborhood Planning Unit B, where he has served since 2005.
He served on the Garden Hills Civic Association from 1990 to 2010.
He also was involved in two major advocacy efforts. One was an effort to pressure the Atlanta Public Schools to responsibly redevelop the closing campus of what was formerly North Fulton High School. He said this resulted in the campus being used for another school, the private Atlanta International School, instead of condos.
Second, he was a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) regarding the original proposal for the MARTA Lindbergh Station, which he said originally included too much parking and was not transit-oriented enough.
He said his litigation stalled the development long enough that the plans changed to where thousands of parking spaces were replaced with housing.
“I’ve got the policy experience to do a good job in the Legislature,” Bozarth said.
House District 54 includes, in whole or in part, Atlanta neighborhoods such as historic Brookhaven, Buckhead, Castlewood, Garden Hills, Lindbergh-Morosgo, Memorial Park, Peachtree Battle, Peachtree Heights, Peachtree Park, South Tuxedo Park, Spring Lake, Wildwood, and Wyngate.
House District 56 includes, in whole or in part, Atlanta neighborhoods such as Piedmont Heights, Ansley Park, Georgia Tech, Midtown, English Avenue, Vine City, Washington Park, West Lake, Dixie Hills, Hunter Hills, Ashview Heights, Atlanta University Center, Morehouse College, Mozley Park, University Community Campus, Florida Heights, Chalet Woods, and Audobon Forest.